Aerojet, a GenCorp company, and NEC Corp will explore the feasibility of jointly supplying low power ion propulsion systems for the U.S. and Japanese aerospace markets. Ion propulsion systems can be used for geosynchronous satellite propulsion systems and deep space missions providing significant advantages over traditional chemical propulsion systems due to the higher fuel efficiency.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NEC have jointly developed a low power "Microwave Ion Engine" that uses microwaves for ion generation, enabling long life and high mission reliability. NEC's Microwave Ion Engine is currently flying on JAXA's HAYABUSA asteroid rendezvous and study mission, and has proven to be robust and reliable, with more than 30,000 hours of in-space operation.
"Aerojet is a leading supplier of satellite propulsion systems in the United States and has broad experience and technical capabilities with satellite propulsion systems," said Kunio Kondo, senior general manager, Aerospace and Defense Operations Unit, NEC Corporation. "Collaborating with Aerojet will help NEC to expand its low power Microwave Ion Engine business in the U. S. market."
Aerojet's electric propulsion products are currently flying on more than 150 operational satellites and span a broad range of electric propulsion products. Dr Roger Myers, general manager of Aerojet's Redmond operations, states that "the low power Microwave Ion Engine from NEC provides an excellent complement to Aerojet's broad electric propulsion product offerings."© Japan Today